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America's Achilles' Heel: the Mississippi River's Old River Control Structure

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Those of us with an interest in the causation, history and challenge of Mississippi River flood control (something of an oxymoron, as Mark Twain pointed out) may find this article from Jeff Masters, of Weather Underground fame, interesting. It's part one of a three part series that I look forward to following.


Be sure to put John McPhee's "The Control of Nature" on your reading list. The Mississippi River / Atchafalaya swamp "control" mechanism is one of 3 or 4 examples he discusses. McPhee can make *any* topic interesting.

Good Reads link:


--- Quote from: lindy on May 12, 2019, 09:56:06 AM ---McPhee can make *any* topic interesting.
--- End quote ---

Ain't that the truth--Here's one I enjoyed:

Thanks for the recs guys, I look forward to diving in.

I'm stuck for a suitable adjective for this image:


Can't help with the adjective choice beyond the obvious "mind-boggling" variety, but I will point out that the area the map covers is precisely the area that McPhee talks about in the Atchafalaya chapter of his book.

As McPhee notes, if we could watch that section of the river over geological time from a satellite perspective--that is, over thousands of years--we would see the bottom of the river swinging back and forth like a tassel attached to the end of a piece of rope, so that for a century or two the Mississippi enters the Gulf fairly close to where it does now, and then swings many miles to the west, where it captures the Atchafalaya River, and then repeats the cycle.

The other thought that the map triggered was the skill that riverboat pilots--including Samuel Clemens--needed to have while traveling up and down the river. They needed to not only have knowledge of all the eddies and sand bars and deep pools in the river, they needed to know how they had changed since the last few times they were in the same sections.

So I'll add yet another suggestion for your book pile for next winter's blizzard reading season: "Life on the Mississippi," a Mark Twain memoir. He describes just how difficult a riverboat pilot's job really was. 



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